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FRENCH GIRL

I Elevation Pictures I March 15, 2024 I

Starring:  Zach Braff, Evelyne Brochu, Luc Picard, Antoine Olivier Pilon, Isabelle Vincent, Charlotte Aubin, Muriel Dutil, William Fichtner, Vanessa Hudgens

Directed By: Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods

Gordon, a hopeless romantic, finds his proposal plans are thrown into chaos when his girlfriend is swept away to Quebec by a job offer from her ex, a sophisticated celebrity chef. Determined to keep their love alive, Gordon leaves Brooklyn for her hometown, only to find himself hilariously out of his depth in attempting to charm her hard-to-impress, French-speaking family.

REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus

RATING 3.5 out of 5

French Girl is an absolute delight from start to finish that mixes an enjoyable romantic comedy storyline with the cultural lens and bilingual nature of Quebec, anchored by a trio of charming lead performances from Zach Braff, Evelyne Brochu and a scene stealing Vanessa Hudgens. 

Romantic comedies are currently having a major comeback after hits like Anyone But You, Red, White & Royal Blue, and Upgraded, each bringing back that effortlessly charming blend of romance and comedy that never fails to connect with audiences. Joining the fun are Canadian writers and directors James A. Woods and Nicolas Wright, penning their first film since 2016’s Independence Day: Resurgence, who take the genre to their home province of Quebec and embrace the culture and bilingual nature of it in this charming romantic comedy. Much like the other films we have seen recently in the genre, French Girl is lovely from start to finish and while touching on cultural elements specific to the province of Quebec, becomes a joyful celebration of love and family from start to finish.


Leading the film is the trio of Zach Braff, Evelyne Brochu and Vanessa Hudgens, and with them at the helm, the film is in more than capable hands. Braff plays his normal goofy and awkward self, which is exactly what the character of Gordon needs, and it makes the film a lot of fun to watch. As Gordon, Braff makes the film feel accessible as he conveys the nervousness of meeting Sophie’s family for the first time and attempting to muster up the courage to ask her father for his permission to marry his daughter, which are feelings viewers can easily relate to. But through the twist that Sophie’s ex-girlfriend may soon become Sophie’s boss and is trying to win her back, Braff’s spiral into jealousy as Gordon makes for some golden comedic moments. Brochu is enchanting as Sophie as she instills the character with a grounded sense of reality and determination as she pursues her dream job, even if she is not capable of seeing the story’s events from Gordon’s point of view at all times. Even though most viewers may not be familiar with Brochu, it was great to see her on screen in a larger role after a lead role on Orphan Black. As a romantic pairing, Braff and Brochu make a beautiful couple with a playful easiness between them that mirrors the connection of a couple that has been together long term, while at the same time creating a deep connection of a couple madly in love with each other and ready to spend the rest of their lives together.

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The award for scene stealer of the film belongs to Hudgens as Sophie’s ex-girlfriend and potential employer Ruby. With a few goofy lines in French delivered with an over the top accent, a larger than life presence in every scene that screams fabulous ensuring the spotlight is always on her (including a full on acapella musical performance where Hudgens unleashes her inner Céline Dion), despite acting like Miranda Priestly behind closed doors, Hudgens is having a blast in the role. Watching her compete against Braff’s Gordon for Sophie’s attention, weaponizing her family against him, leads to some of the funniest moments of the film, reminding audiences why Hudgens is perfect in these fun romantic comedies. As for the supporting cast of Charlotte Aubin, Muriel Dutil, Luc Picard, Antoine Oliver Pilon and Isabelle Vincent that make up the Tremblay family, well they are an absolute delight! This group of Quebec actors add to the comedic atmosphere of the film while having a wonderful rapport amongst themself, truly helping to bring to life the vibrant and lovable family that is a vital element of this story.

 

Even with the story having all the familiar beats of the romantic comedy genre, there is lots to enjoy about French Girl. The laughter never stops as Gordon bumbles his way through the family visit with Sophie’s relatives, especially the hilarious interactions with Sophie’s grandmother who is not all with it. Ruby never fails to create laugh out loud moments as she throws her wealth around, charming both Sophie and her family in hopes of winning her back, much to Gordon’s dismay. But what makes French Girl special is the authentic Quebecois atmosphere and culture to the film that informs the romantic comedy elements of the story. From the mixing of French and English, Sophie’s father’s hesitancy to the young American man pursuing his daughter’s heart, the struggling family farm that has been in the family for generations and the beautiful locations of Quebec City, the film screams what Canadians know Quebec to be for the film’s entirety and it’s a delight to see this representation on screen and reaching a larger audience thanks to the involvement of Braff and Hudgens.


Oui oui! The romantic comedy genre is alive and thriving a mere matter of months into 2024, hitting so many items on your romantic comedy scorecard in this one film alone. From jealous exes, a disapproving father, family gatherings gone wrong, laugh out loud situations and all the romantic moments in between, French Girl has it all. With the wonderful romantic pairing of Zach Braff and Evelyne Brochu and a scene stealing, diva performance from Vanessa Hudgens, James A. Woods and Nicolas Wright tap into the best elements of the romantic comedy and blend it with an authentic Quebecois flair that makes French Girl one joyful celebration of love and family from start to finish.

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